House debates

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Constituency Statements

Brisbane Electorate: Australian Defence Force

10:47 am

Photo of Trevor EvansTrevor Evans (Brisbane, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I wish to say something about the importance of the defence industries in Brisbane. The coalition government remains committed to not only a strong Defence Force in the interest of service personnel; we are equally committed to the many businesses and small business operators who provide to them. Even in what is a relatively small electorate geographically speaking, Brisbane has about 100 local businesses who supply or are contracted to the defence forces. First and foremost, these small businesses and large businesses are a source of local employment. Critically though, they are also businesses at the cutting of technology and advanced manufacturing, meaning that they provide high-value and highly skilled jobs in our local economy. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's decision to put the defence industry at the centre of our economic plan was the right decision. The government's mission is straightforward. We are determined to use the defence dollar to drive a high-technology, advanced-manufacturing future.

Yesterday, the government released the preliminary findings of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare study Incidence of suicide among serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel 2001-2014. The figures released are the first accurate, robust data produced on the incidence of suicide among serving, reserve and ex-service populations. The study found that, between 2001 and 2014, there were 292 certified suicide deaths amongst people with at least one day of ADF service since 2001. And every suicide is of course a tragic reminder that we need to do more.

We know that one of the key factors in reducing the number of suicides among veterans is ensuring that they are financially secure and have the dignity of meaningful employment. That is why it is so important that the government announced the formation of the Industry Advisory Committee on Veterans' Employment—a group of leading Australian business people who will consider how to mentor ADF personnel and translate ADF skills into the private sector.

I also want to touch on the social and economic benefits of the defence white paper and how that will deliver for Brisbane. The government will increase defence spending by $29.9 billion over the next decade to deliver the strategies and plans set out in the 2016 white paper. Locally, the white paper's Integrated Investment Program will bring an additional half a billion dollars of investment to Brisbane over the next two decades.

A key part of our white paper was to outline greater collaboration with the innovative private sector. That means many local businesses will also benefit from this announcement. Almost 100 local companies in Brisbane will directly benefit from this closer collaboration. They include: Spring Hill Tech Company; Absolute Data Group; Advanced Composite Structures Australia, based in Eagle Farm; Explosive Protection Equipment, based in Fortitude Valley; and reconnaissance company Insitu Pacific. We are committed to supporting veterans and a strong Defence Force.